Many international students have a life-long dream to study at Harvard – but the elitist sorority and fraternity culture might deter some. But to promote inclusivity Harvard has now banned single-sex clubs not tied to the university.
The Faculty of Arts and Science voted to include the banning of single-sex clubs in the university handbook.
The handbook will explain that society members will not be eligible for certain fellowships, university leadership positions or the captaincy for varsity athletics team, said the Harvard Crimson.
Fraternities and sororities have come under fire on US campuses for their problematic ‘hazing’ – a practice where new members are subject to violence, humiliation, and abuse – as well as perpetuating privileged ideologies.
Students and education experts have been calling for Greek life to be banned on campuses for years, and Harvard is following in the footsteps of other universities by implementing the ban.
Harvard hopes the campus will become a safer and more inclusive environment, which is likely to be a welcome relief to incoming overseas students.
The university said it does not want to shut down any single-sex groups, but instead work with them to become co-ed and more inclusive.
“For the groups that are working with us, we’ve made clear to them that now, you are fine as long as you’re talking with us and you’re working with us,” Assistant Dean of Student Life Alexander Miller told the Harvard Crimson.
However, Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair expressed concerns about how the university will actually enforce the sanctions, according to the Harvard Crimson.
O’Dair said the policy will work on a voluntary basis and the university will not be ‘tracking down’ students.
“We trust our students, and we’re going to inform our students, we inform our students of all policies. We are not going to undertake any efforts to go find students. We’ve been really clear about that,” she said.
The university deans are working with students to find out how they want social groups to go forward at Harvard in a safe and inclusive way.
“These are things that I would like to think about with these groups that I currently don’t think about with the math club. There is a lot of liability when you throw a bunch of college students in a room to socialize,” Miller said.